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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Shimmy and Shake

As most of you probably know by now on Saturday morning at 4.30am Christchurch suffered a major earthquake.  7.1 on the Richter scale situated 30k away from Christchurch and only 10k down.  Those are the dry facts.
The reality was that we woke up suddenly, even Thomas didn't sleep through it.  Normally in quakes we leave the boys in bed, not this one!   We both reeled from bed to doorway, then reeled to the boys doorway; it's very hard to walk or run normally when the whole world is moving like that.  We could hear things hitting the floor and smashing.  I ran to the boys bed, they're now in bunks.  George was awake so I lifted him down by feel (no lights on, we didn't even think to try them at this point).   Handed George to his Dad and they went to our bedroom doorway while I got Ian out of bed.  He was still asleep; I don't know how he managed that one!
We sheltered in the boys doorway with me curled over him for just in case while Thomas did the same with George in the next doorway. 
Once the main pair of shocks was over, the boys went back to bed, both in the bottom bunk as we figured that was the safest place.  I don't think Thomas and I really had time to be scared, we were both pumped with adrenalin, but too busy thinking about the boys to really feel scared.  It was 5am at this point.  I grabbed the small torch from the bedside cabinet and used it to find the big torch which had fallen down.  Luckily it wasn't broken; we store it up high so the boys don't use the batteries up without us knowing.
I checked the house, almost everything that had fallen down was fine.  I think we lost 2 ornaments and a plate in the house, I picked them up along with all the medications that had fallen down so the boys wouldn't be in danger in the morning.  All this by torchlight as the power was out.
Thomas went out to check the neighbours, we have overhead powerlines here, but luckily none of them had gone down so more than likely it was a transformer station that got killed.  Neighbours all fine which was good.   We went back to bed, didn't get back to sleep though due to the aftershocks.
The one neighbour we didn't speak to we figured was ok as we could see a light in their front room (torch), he came around and checked on us later.

We got up when it got light and did a quick tidy up inside.  Determined that while we had water the flow was significantly reduced and still no power.  Found the battery radio and turned it on.  Informed that power was out for 70% of Christchurch, many places had no water and to conserve it if you had it.  We have an emergency kit including water, but I still filled saucepans for later boiling as the water was probably contaminated.  Sewerage systems are also down, so please don't flush toilets; that's easier said than done as it's habit for everyone except Ian.  However everyone except Ian managed it.  Ian usually rarely flushes, he wanted to each time he used it yesterday though; why is that?
Checked the house and no problems structurally thank goodness, a few broken things in the garage but also mostly fine.  The car picked up one new dent from a bed falling on it, but not worth claiming on insurance.

Listening to the updates on the radio we determined that most damage was in Kaiapoi, New Brighton where they were flooded and also in the CBD where lots of buildings had some pretty major damage.
Managed to get hold of all our family except my parents.  Everyone had breakages, but nothing major and all our houses are fine.  I went over to check Mum and Dad, I was pretty sure it was just that their phone is a portable and they were out of power, but had to check anyway.   I was right and they were fine, Mum was talking to the neighbour when I arrived and Dad was already at work helping with the cleanup before Mitre 10 opened for the day.

Our power finally came back on at 5.45pm, in the meantime I'd been doing my work as it requires good light to do and there was no guarantee on power anyway.  We'd gone for a walk to the dairy at about 2pm, some ground damage and fallen chimneys in the area; a lot of cleanup going on.  Just as well it was a fine day.  We got to see the news, which brought home to us just how lucky we'd been that it happened at the time it did.  Most people were at home, not many hurt and the only person who died was a heart attack victim.  It could have been so much worse.  Though some houses will get worse with the aftershocks which have ranged from 3.2 to 5.1 on the Richter scale, we had one just now which was fairly sharp.  We're also due some very nasty winds today and it's going to rain tomorrow, expecting I think it was 150mm.  I'm not really expecting school to be on tomorrow, but we'll wait and see.  I hope work is ok, but I'll leave checking on that up to the owners, I'm just a lowly outworker.

Geonet gives the quake details, you can't see the original quake on the first page as there have been so many aftershocks.

Here are some pics, none of ours but they'll give you some idea

I hope everyone reading this is well, and maybe that you might get your emergency kits together.  Luckily we didn't need much of ours, but the water was handy.   Also the full gas bottle and single burner gas ring and bbq.  And having a fire for heating with the lack of electricity.  I'd done the grocery shopping the previous day so we had plenty of food, but if we hadn't we have supplies in the shed for that too.  Had the house been badly damaged we'd still have been ok, not great, but ok.

I do hope they get the sewerage on line soon though, I really want a shower!


KathyR said... Best Blogger Tips

So glad that you and your family are all safe and that your property didn't sustain any damage. We were woken by the quake, too, and have felt several of the aftershocks but nothing to what it much have been like for you. I just can't imagine!

I don't know how long it will take for them to get the sewerage etc fixed (Fonterra has offered to transport drinking water from Temuka if required, so that won't be a problem) so I wonder if there will be portable showers and toilet facilities made available throughout Chch?

I do hope that the high winds and heavy rain aren't nearly as bad as forecasted.

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